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USMNT film room: Analyzing the El Salvador win

We break down each individual player who was on the field in Orlando.

El Salvador v United States: Group D - CONCACAF Nations League Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

We’re here for a special edition of USMNT Film Room. In this edition, we have individual comps for every single player who got on the field for the United States against El Salvador in Nations League back on March 27th. We’ll go through the clips in order of how SSFC readers rated their performance.

Ricardo Pepi - 7.94 (MOTM)

El Tren was tremendous in this game, after subbing in for the last 30’. His goal was excellent (0:11 in the comp), from the decisive off-ball run, the strength to get past the defender’s shove and hold him off, and the technique to chip the keeper so perfectly. It was a thing of beauty.

Pepi didn’t stop there, though. He had a number of other opportunities, including a shot that was blocked (0:27), a great near-post run that was completely missed by Booth (0:32), another shot pulled just wide (0:45), a surging run into the box that required a last-ditch clearance (1:15), and his delicate first touch to set up a shot (1:32). He also combined well with the midfield several times (1:28, 1:56, 2:02).

Nearly a perfect game for Pepi as a super-sub.

Miles Robinson - 7.50

Miles had a strong game, especially on defense, where he dominated El Salvador’s attackers. He did a good job to a win a 1v1 battle (0:18), hustled back to win the ball from behind (1:05), and showed great defending in space to stop a counter (1:13). After suffering a major injury, it’s good to see him showing his athleticism again.

His passing was mostly good, with a line-splitting pass to Pulisic (0:35), good calmness under pressure to find McKennie in midfield (1:37), a nice ball over the top to Dest (1:57), and a crisp pass to Aaronson played at high tempo (2:05). He did have a bad giveaway in midfield (1:50) that would’ve created a dangerous opportunity if El Salvador was more competent on the counterattack.

Tim Ream - 7.02

The Ream Renaissance continues, with the 35-year-old defender bringing his strong Premier League performances into Nations League. Ream was excellent on the ball, patiently probing and finding holes in the defense.

He was strong defensively except for two plays. He got turned and burned in midfield (0:45), which led to a cross and a shot on goal. A better attacker could score that one. There was another ball into the box that Ream didn’t deal with (1:45), but the shot went wide for Turner to collect.

Matt Turner - 6.91

It was a relatively quiet night for Turner in goal, but he performed well. He made a diving save in the second minute (0:05), and showed some nice sweeper-keeping outside the box (0:17).

While Turner has been seen as an excellent shot-stopper for years, it’s obvious how much more comfortable on the ball he’s become since moving to Arsenal. His distribution was good throughout the match. His long throw to Pulisic (0:33) created a dangerous moment, but Pulisic’s touch was poor.

Weston McKennie - 6.84

This rating is way too low. McKennie was the Man of the Match for me. With Tyler Adams out injured, Anthony Hudson re-shaped the midfield, with McKennie and Musah further back and Gio Reyna allowed to roam freely and influence the game. McKennie played the role of a quarterback, dropping deep to pick up the ball from the back line, and spraying passes all over the field.

Weston’s skillset was on full display. He was extremely comfortable receiving the ball with his back to goal, taking great turns to eliminate the first defender, and threading passes through tight windows past multiple Salvadorian defenders. His assist to Pepi was a particularly special pass, but he was hitting great passes all night long.

Here’s one specific play where Wes receives, shakes his defender, and plays one pass to completely open up the defense.

Gio Reyna - 6.67

We got to see Gio in a free-floating central midfield role, and he didn’t disappoint. He was very influential in the attack, receiving the ball and combining with teammates. His ball security is one of his best assets, and playing with teammates like McKennie, Musah, and Pulisic allowed him to play quick one-two’s and float past defenders.

He had a shot from outside the box just saved by the keeper, and rang the post with another. He got some flak for taking that shot instead of finding Zendejas in the box, but on the re-watch, it’s not 100% clear that Zendejas had the better opportunity.

Luca de la Torre - 6.56

Luca subbed on at 70’ and his first involvement was a dangerous giveaway in midfield, although Aaronson deserves some blame for passing to him in a bad spot. That was his only real negative involvement - he spent the next 25 minutes getting on the ball, circulating it all over the field, pushing forward, and cleaning up a couple messes defensively as well.

It’s a luxury being able to bring a guy like Luca in off the bench.

If Pulisic scores this, is it the best USMNT goal ever?

Sergiño Dest - 6.29

Dest came into camp rusty, having not gotten on the field for AC Milan in over 60 days. That rust showed a little bit early, and this wasn’t his best performance ever, but he showed his technical ability and attacking instincts as the game went on. He nearly drew a penalty in the 16th minute (0:38) and had a lovely back-and-forth with Reyna all the way up the field that resulted in a missed Pulisic header at the 6-yard box (0:53). He also put in a delightful cross for Pepi (1:50) which was almost an exquisite goal.

He had a really bad giveaway in central midfield (1:32), but El Salvador wasn’t able to do anything with it. You’d like to see him defend a little better, as he allowed more than one dangerous cross to come in from his side. Overall, it was good to see him play with some of the sauce and swagger that are typical to his game.

Taylor Booth - 6.15

Booth subbed on and immediately hit a cross into the stands (0:05), but things got much better from there. He put in a great cutback for Aaronson (0:11), which went wide. On a counter, he missed a surging Pulisic, but hit a lofted ball over the defenders (0:30) to find Pepi for a shot just outside the 6. Another entry pass for Pepi (0:53) was just cut out.

I was glad to see Booth’s defensive energy, winning the ball back multiple times. He picked it up at midfield (1:00) and immediately transitioned from defense to attack, playing the ball out wide to Dest to create a shot for Pepi. There’s still room to grow for Booth, but he didn’t look out of place at all. This was good to see after his short cameo in Grenada was pretty “meh”.

Yunus Musah - 5.99

Early on, Musah fell asleep on a throw-in (0:02), which led to a dangerous shot for El Salvador. He hit a sweet diagonal out to Dest (0:18), wiggled past two defenders and found Pulisic (0:34), whose touch was heavy, and played a lovely return pass to Reyna (0:58).

In the second half, he danced into the box and found Zendejas (1:45), whose chipped shot just missed. He displayed his usual ability to receive the ball, turn, and progress past the first defender (2:03). Overall, a solid game for Musah. He brings a lot of quality to our midfield, and I think his rating was a bit low.

Brenden Aaronson - 5.89

Aaronson’s first two involvements were to give the ball away, and his third was to underhit a pass for De La Torre, leading to a dangerous giveaway in midfield. Brenden made a good run into the box and got a shot off (0:33), which was blocked. His best play was receiving a lofted ball under pressure, turning, and finding De La Torre’s feet (0:45) to open up the defense.

His energetic pressing won the ball in the final third (1:00), but he couldn’t find the pass to Pepi. He made an intelligent run into the box (1:09) which was missed by Booth. Overall, not much to write home about. We know he can contribute at this level, but there was nothing too special on display this game.

Antonee Robinson - 5.74

Jedi defended well, and had several passes to open things up, but was also messy on the ball. I counted 5 giveaways, including one where his touch let him down on the touchline and the ball rolled out (0:24). He also hit a cross over everyone (0:27), and surged upfield, only to have his cross blocked (1:21).

The flipside of the giveaways were his incisive passes. He did well to find Pulisic (0:02), and again in midfield (0:57), and a third time with a slick disguised pass (1:15), released Reyna down the sideline (1:42), and found Pepi upfield to unlock the defense (1:58).

Christian Pulisic - 5.50

Not the best game for Christian. His touch let him down on a long throw from Turner (0:12), and he couldn’t control a pass from Musah in close quarters (0:29). He did really well to drop between the lines, receive, immediately find Zendejas, and burst into the box to receive the return ball (0:32), only for his touch to let him down. He took a lovely touch (0:53) to set up Reyna on a pass from Jedi. He was in position to score on a cross from Dest (1:06), but his header went wide. His free kick found McKennie for what should have been the opening goal (1:15), only for Weston to flash it wide.

In the second half, his quick turn and pass (1:19) let Reyna in for a shot off the post. His corner met McKennie’s head (1:30) and could’ve been another goal. He released Jedi up the flank with a filthy backheel (1:43), and made a good attacking run into the box (2:04) which Booth missed. He hit a sweet volley off of Luca’s juggle and lobbed pass (2:12), but it wasn’t on target. He had another chance at 91’, but blazed it over the bar (2:16).

Overall a night where Pulisic will be disappointed. He got into lots of dangerous positions, and indeed created a lot of danger, but often let himself down with loose touches, and couldn’t finish off plays.

Pulisic took most of the set pieces throughout the game. He had a few that were disappointing but did find McKennie twice in good positions.

Alex Zendejas - 5.41

Not a great night for Zendejas. He did have a nice dummy (0:07) to allow Dest to run upfield, and found him again in the final third (0:16), but those moments were surrounded with bad touches and giveaways. He played a good return ball to Pulisic in the box (0:30),

It was perplexing to see him have open space to his right, but instead cut back onto his left and lose the opportunity. This happed at 0:24, 0:47, 1:15, and 2:06. That last one was the most egregious for me. He had wide open space to his right, and instead cut back onto his left.

He had an opportunity to slip Dest in (0:52) but missed the pass. He frustrated Reyna by missing a pass to him in open space (0:58). At 1:08, he got in the way of a through-ball for Dest. He did hit a good pass to Dike (1:48), and nearly scored with a chipped shot that went just wide (2:00).

Johnny Cardoso - 5.28

Johnny subbed on for 3’ to end the game, and had three touches.

Daryl Dike - 5.03

A disappointing night for Daryl Dike. He got the start with the “A” team around him, at home, against a medium-strength Concacaf team, but not only did he not get on the scoresheet, he didn’t really impact the game at all.

He made a good run in behind (0:41), which McKennie tried to hit, but just missed, and another (0:52) which was missed by Zendejas. He did well to find a return pass to Musah with a defender on his back (1:12), but didn’t get close enough to goal to find Pulisic’s dangerous cross (1:32).

He didn’t make a ton of mistakes, but wasn’t very involved in the attack, and the window ends with Dike and Pepi each playing about 90’, with Pepi scoring 3 and Dike none.

What were your takeaways from this camp? Whose stock went up, or down? Hit the comments to let us know your favorite moments from this weekend.